Republican challenger Young Kim is slightly leading in the race against Democratic Incumbent Gil Cisneros for California’s 39th Congressional District by 0.6%, according to projections by the California Secretary of State, making the final results uncertain as counties continue counting ballots.
As of 10 p.m., Cisneros has 136,742 votes while the former state assemblywoman has 138,245 votes to represent the district which encompasses cities including Fullerton, Buena Park, Diamond Bar, Chino Hills and more.
Kim holds 52.31% of Orange County votes with Cisneros behind with 47.69%. In Los Angeles County, Cisneros is leading with 54.56% of votes while Kim has 45.44%. In San Bernardino County, Cisneros holds 51.88% of votes with Kim nearing 48.12%.
On Tuesday evening, Kim held nearly a 5% advantage over Cisneros in Orange County, despite falling behind in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. According to the secretary of state, election results will not be certified until Dec. 11.
When the two last faced off in the 2018 election, Kim held an advantage for a week before Cisneros took the lead, accumulating 52.6% of the votes to win the district after close to a decade of Republican control.
In March, Kim pulled in over 6% more votes than Ciseneros during the primary election.
On Tuesday night, Cisneros held a socially distant car rally alongside State Assembly candidate Andrew Rodriguez and State Senate candidate Josh Newman, where they each gave speeches as results came in.
“In 2018 it took us 10 days before we finally found out that we won. I think this time it’s going to take us a few days before we finally get the result. It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride.” Cisneros said. “We need to be patient and wait for those results to come in.”
Kim took to Twitter on Tuesday to thank her grassroots team for their campaign.
“While we're still waiting on results, your support and dedication have been critical to the success of this campaign. I could not be more grateful,” Kim said.
Cisneros is a former navy lieutenant commander who won a $266 million lottery in 2010. When he took office for the first time in 2018, he helped Democrats take a majority in the House of Representatives and grip every congressional seat in Orange County.
With his fortune, he started the Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation to help support Latino student success. Cisneros ran on a platform that aimed to make higher education more affordable, keep the Affordable Care Act and reform immigration policies.
He has been criticized by Kim for claiming to want lower costs for prescription drugs despite profiting from prescription price hikes and trading millions in stock. In 2018, Kim said in a television commercial that Cisneros does not understand the struggle to afford a home in California because of his lottery win.
Born in South Korea, Kim became the first Korean American assemblywoman to represent Southern California. She ran a platform that aimed to secure funding for veterans and homeless children, ensure low public college tuition and fight tax increases.
Kim began her political career serving former Congressman Ed Royce, who represented the 39th District from 1993 to 2002 and again from 2013 to 2018, as his director of community relations and Asian affairs. In 2014, she became the state assembly representative for the 65th district, beating Incumbent Sharon Quirk-Silva before losing to her in 2016.
Cisneros has criticized Kim for spreading false reports about him and for being funded by drug and insurance companies. A Cisneros advertisement accuses Kim of supporting President Donald Trump’s decision to sue and strip healthcare from millions of Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Daily Titan will continuously provide updates on voting projections in Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties until all ballots are counted and a member of congress can be officially declared.